Integrating Business Decisions and Processes: Effective Collaboration of DMN and BPMN

Join us for this live presentation in picturesque Dublin to learn about the best practices and traps of integrating business processes with business decisions.

Why should organizations model their business decisions? What are the benefits of using DMN and BPMN to capture and define the logic of your business decisions and analytics within the context of a business process? How should you best split business concerns between the process and decisions and what are the pitfalls of interfacing the two? We will discuss all of these points.

This live presentation will examine how process and decisions work together and walk through real BPMN and DMN models from financial compliance explaining how process and decisions have been integrated in projects. Learn proven best practices for overcoming key business challenges: including overly complex rules, improving ROI of expensive processes and agile migration to automated decision services.

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Why Every Business Analyst Should Be Able to Model Business Decisions

A decision model being edited


In this article I propose that every business analyst should be capable of identifying and modeling business decisions precisely and transparently. They should use a prescribed, standard format to describe decision-making that can be understood by other analysts with minimal explanation, rather than the individualistic, ad-hoc spreadsheets, text documents or technical business rules that they so often use today. Business analysts should be as proficient in modelling decision as they are with data or process and decision modeling should be a recognized as a ‘tool of the trade’. Being able to precisely represent business data, process and decisions should be seen as essential to the analyst role.

Without this skill, vital business knowledge will be buried in the volumes of incoherent verbiage that constitutes most written specifications; lost in the heads of SMEs who ultimately leave the company; or obscured in millions of lines of programming code or equally obscure excel spreadsheets where it may safely hide without fear of discovery.

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New Book Release: Real-World Decision Modeling with DMN

I am pleased to announce the release of James Taylor’s and my comprehensive guide to decision modeling with the Object Management Group’s Decision Model and Notation (DMN) standard. The book, “Real-World Decision Modeling with DMN”, has been published by Meghan-Kiffer Press and is now on general release, available from Amazon in paper and Kindle versions. It is also available from Barnes and Noble.

Decision Modeling is an important technique for improving the effectiveness, consistency and agility of an organization’s operational decisions and a vital enabler of the continuous improvement of its business processes. DMN is a standard that is integrated with many other established industry standards. It has been created by experienced practitioners and is maintained by the Object Management Group (OMG; a prominent standards authority). It is flexible and extensible. It is already supported by over 14 software tools. Indeed, DMN represents the most complete and best supported means of modeling business decisions that is currently available or likely to become available in the near future.

“A well-defined, well-structured approach to Decision Modeling (using the OMG international DMN standard) gives a repeatable, consistent approach to decision-making and also allows the crucial ‘why?’ question to be answered—how did we come to this point and what do we do next? The key to accountability, repeatability, consistency and even agility is a well-defined approach to business decisions, and the standard and this book gets you there.”
Richard Mark Soley, Ph.D., Chairman and CEO, Object Management Group, Inc.

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Introduction to Decision Modeling 2

Why should organizations invest time and effort to model their business decisions? What is the ‘bottom-line’ benefit?

Ahead of the publication of our joint book on Decision Modeling, to be released later this year, James Taylor and I have made a series of video shorts about business decision modeling. In this brief video, James and I talk about the advantages of modeling, including:

  • The practical benefits of the approach: time to market, transparency and improved requirements integrity.
  • How it improves communication among distributed teams of business analysts, subject matter experts and developers.
  • The gains of separating business decisions from business processes.
  • How decision modeling boosts the effectiveness of analytics, data needs analysis and change management.

Let us know what you think. Review the first post of this series. Find out more about decision modeling. Talk to us about decision modeling mentoring and training.

In our next post we’ll consider how to model decisions and why it’s best to use a standard.

New Book: Real-World Decision Modeling with DMN

I’m very pleased to announce my collaboration with James Taylor, CEO of Decision Management Solutions, on a definitive guide to Decision Modeling with the Object Management Group’s Decision Model and Notation (DMN) standard. Our book, “Real-World Decision dmn front coverModeling with DMN”, will be published by Meghan-Kiffer Press in Q4-2016.

James has a vast experience of Decision Modeling and is a prominent member of the Object Management Group (OMG) panel that designed the DMN standard. He practically invented the term Decision Management. Like us, he has been applying Decision Modeling techniques to help companies master and improve their Business Decisions since the first standards emerged over five years ago. James is an insightful, shrewd and accomplished man and working with him is a real pleasure. We both aim to enrich the book with our practical experience of using DMN on large projects.

This comprehensive book will provide a complete explanation of the Decision Modeling technique, the DMN standard and of the business benefits of using it. Full of examples and best practices developed on real projects, it will help new decision modelers to quickly get up to speed while also providing crucial patterns and advice for more those with more experience.

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Book Review: Process and Decision Modeling in BPMN/DMN

Thankfully, Tom Debevoise and James Taylor have recently joined forces to address the drought of books on DMN and its integration with BPMN. They have updated the former’s Microguide to Processing Modeling in BPMN to include decision modeling and published it as the Microguide to Process and Decision Modeling in BPMN/DMN. As an admirer of both Tom’s precise, example-laden earlier work and James’ impressive work on decision management, I have a very high opinion of their book. See why here…

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Business Decisions and Business Rules: What’s the Difference?

Within the past ten years the business rule community has been referring increasingly to business ‘decisions’ in its books, papers and internet forums and somewhat less frequently to business ‘rules’. But what is a business decision? Is it a synonym of business rule? Some certainly seem to use it that way—some tabular rules even come in the form of ‘decision tables’.

Is ‘decision’ a new term for ‘rule’, invented to help with marketing of the same old ideas for comparatively ‘new’ disciplines like Enterprise Decision Management? Are decisions the new rules, or just hype? Or is a decision a genuinely new idea in its own right?  Are business rules and business decisions compatible: can they be used together, or must one choose between them?

This article explains our view—forged by front-line experiences and reading over the past decade—that business decisions and rules are very different things.

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BPM’s New Use for Ad-Hoc Subprocesses

In BPMN, an ad-hoc subprocess is one which has no sequence: the order in which their constituent tasks are performed is unknown or unspecified. The tasks therein not only have no stipulated running order, they don’t have to execute at all. Until recently, when modelling business processes, I’d use ad-hoc processes to denote business activities for which order was irrelevant or ‘unknowable’. But the use of BPM tools has thrown up a new rationale for ad-hoc processes. One which may make their use considerably more common…

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BPM Task Selection: Why More Choice Means Less Control

One of my assumptions about Business Process Management (BPM) systems is that they can empowers users. By users I mean task participants—human workers who actually perform the jobs defined by the BPM.  These systems orchestrate processes, make them visible to the participants and facilitate collaboration across the enterprise. BPM installations, within the confines of the process defined by SMEs, provide workers with: a choice of the tasks they select from their ‘work queues’, a shared process context so they can see where they fit in to the ‘bigger picture’ and metrics that show how they are performing.

I now understand that, in some cases, this ability to select jobs is the last thing workers or the SMEs really want…

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